Because Mother Says So
“COOOOOOMMMMMMEEEEEE…….COOOOOOOMMMMMEEEE TOOO MMEEEEE….”
Echoed the voice, incessantly. “Mother….is here, waiting for you.” The voice reverberated around them. It was soft and…almost beautiful. “Come to me, my children.” It called to them. “Come to your mother, be one with meeeeeeeee….”
The sounds of the sea and the drippings of water from the sewers above were drowned away by the melodious voice. Andril knew somewhere in his mind, between his favorite rum and how he needed to polish the silver in his gear, that the voice most likely wasn’t melodious at all. He knew it was dark magic calling to him, and yet beautiful is the word he couldn’t get out of his mind. Beautiful, alluring. She wanted him. She needed him!
“Coming, mother,” he replied quietly. “Wait until you see what I’ve brought you!”
They had entered the tunnels to the North of the derelict ship, the eggs, and the creatures that should not have been. The tunnels here were wider and except for a walkway along the side, filled with sea water, murky and dark. They crossed bridges and passes along cliffs. There was some sort of foul luminescence here, in long strands that cascaded from the ceilings. At times, they opened into wide underground caverns, in others, they were narrow passageways. They crept in the darkness, but felt suddenly vulnerable in such an open place down here. Nothing stirred though, and nothing made a noise, except for the voice. Constant. Unrelenting.
There was a foul smell, or maybe a pleasant one. They couldn’t be sure. The deeper they crept along the paths, the more difficult it was to know where they were going and where they had been. The louder the voice grew, the duller their senses. It filled their head. It made them nauseous. And yet it was so alluring. Ahead, in the dark, a strange chant sprang up. So many voices, all in unison. Guttural, animal. Human. Inhuman.
Thrak was pretty sure that they were heading towards the direction of the wall, the same that held back the entire swamp. He wondered if Sir Ian would indeed finish his job. Or if Canton for that matter would be willing to risk himself to see it through when shield came to sword*. He knew enough about Celn soldiers on the frontiers of the known realm, and here in the isles. He sensed Ian was different than those he had once run from. Those he had once guarded. So much had happened since he awoke to find the demons in the inn that night. It seemed like forever ago. Of course, it wasn’t forever he knew. It was three days. And three days ago, he figured he couldn’t have ever imagined himself down here fighting to free the city. Risking his life for those of others who ignored him at best and at worst, would prefer him exterminated. So another Temple Mount might be constructed. For full Celns, instead of halves like him. Half a Celn, half a beast. Never enough.
He felt a pat on his scaly back, and it startled him a bit. He turned his snout and saw Areia, and lowered his axe. “Thanks for the help back there big fella’,” she whispered, “You better let me go first here though. And whatever you do, do yourself a favor, ok?”
“And what would that be, sssstreet urchin?” said Thrak. He was growing accustomed to Areia’s humor, although he didn’t always get her jokes.
“Don’t do what mother tells you, k?” Thrak figured this was another joke he wasn’t going to get. He watched Areia slink ahead along the pathway into the darkness.
Areia figured her little quip hilarious. She liked the idea of telling mother jokes to a creature she imagined hatched from an egg. She giggled, because it was funny to her, and then followed the sounds of the chanting. Soon it grew from every pathway she could take. She climbed her way out of a tunnel, and careful to hide, found herself looking out onto another beach. This one though was a sandy beach and there were many figures upon it. There was enough of the pale blue light from several places to reveal hundreds of forms standing or sitting or laying down. In front of her, their backs turned toward her, were standing dozens of the fish-like creatures that had been attacking them. But in front of these were hundreds of men. Prisoners, tied up on the beach in the same way as the others they had rescued. Some of them were moaning or crying out in obvious agony. Some shouted or cursed. Most simply knelt and since she could only see the backs of their heads, she couldn’t see their faces. Or know for that matter what they must have been thinking. She thought she recognized the voice of Morn. But she wasn’t sure.
And then she saw her.
On the beach, past the figures, like a small hill of rock, blending in with the dark sea beyond lay a gigantic beast in the darkness. Larger than a ship and along it’s back, like one of the island’s strange caterpillars it grew odd spikes, with twin tips. One row on either side. The beast had an enormous mouth where teeth stuck out from every which way, and what looked like a dull lantern hung from above it on some type of stalk sticking out of it’s head. The beast moved it side to side, casting more of the pale blue light on the figures tied up on the beach. The chanting was growing louder, and the voice which now seemed to come from the entirety of the cave itself, was screaming inside her own head. COME TO ME!
Areia could tell now the chanting wasn’t just coming from the fish creatures, but also the humans and elves and dwarves before the thing. Dry, so dry.…..they moaned. Several seemed to sway in front of her, others made movements as if they were trying furtively to look away, but their bindings held them in place. Then, she saw him! There was Morn, and he was tied up next to the commander. Fritz. She thought she may have recognized others too. One, a man named Eron, a ranger she thought he was, but she couldn’t be sure it was him. Fritz wasn’t moving, but Morn was. Swaying back and forth with the others. The beast’s light snaked outwards towards the cleric, towards Morn. They saw him get up and pull on his bindings. He wasn’t moving away, he was trying to move closer to the thing, he was following the light, back and forth. Back and forth.
“Come to meeeeeeee….” the voice called out. And several of the creatures who she now could tell were armed with spears and tridents, cut the his bonds. He walked forward towards the great mother, and for a moment Areia thought he’d be eaten. Surely, swallowed whole! But no, instead, Morn walked alongside the beast’s flank. The mouth nipped the man then, but he didn’t flinch, instead tracing his hands along it’s sides, as if admiring something in a store. In front of the cleric, along the creature’s flank in front of the last of it’s spikes, a hole in it’s skin began to open up. Tendrils from the flesh along the hole’s edge began to grow outwards until they were as long as branches from a small tree. Then, they intertwined themselves around the Morn’s head and shoulders. Their strength was so great that they picked him up off his feet and brought him, head first into the hole, so that just his legs and feet were sticking out of the creature! He was now a part of the beast, and as Areia watched in absolute horror she realized then that the other spikes were the lower portions of other men.
“Morn, No!!!!!” cried someone on the beach, someone with human senses still left.
Those closest to the front, newer victims and those in the back nearly gone inside of her, but just for their feet. She couldn’t see fully through the mass of figures standing on the beach, but she thought she could make out a few of them carrying away something from the back of the colossal creature. She saw again with true disgust, that is one of the eggs that were upon the beach they first came to. Whatever this thing was, it was spawning. Tonight was not a ritual she reasoned. It’s mating season! And these eggs are more of her kind, more like her, more females. The colonial men are her mates! We’ve only fought her male guardians, but these will carry on countless more destruction. This is madness she screamed inside her head.
“Squeaks, it’s time,” she whispered as quietly as she could, and off the little mouse ran, down and through the legs of the guards on the shore. She hoped he would have sense to gnaw through the commander’s bindings. She hoped he was still himself.
But just then, the light atop the stalk on the great beast’s head centered itself on Fritz and he too began to sway like the other man had. He slowly rose to his feet, and swaying side to side, took a step towards the thing. Areia knew she had no time, it was now or never. Why am I doing this she screamed inside her head, but she did it anyway.
She leapt out, calling for the others behind her to advance. “It’s ladies night fellas!” she called out. “And every man for himself!” Her twin daggers twirled in the dim blue light as she streaked down the beach towards the monstrosity on the shore. In anticipation, it reared upwards like a great caterpillar, and several claws as long as a spear appeared underneath it. It’s mouth opened and tendrils whipped out.
“Come to meeeeeeeee!!!!”